Double Fugue, 'Kyrie eleison,' Hess 246 (Completion) (mp3)
Willy Hess seems to link the sketch for this double fugue to the other fugues Beethoven wrote for Albrechtsberger, it should therefore date from about 1794/95. Hess also suggests that the themes of this fugue may be by Albrechtsberger. This seems less likely; in the case of the other double fugues Beethoven wrote at this time, one theme was always derived from the list of themes which Albrechtberger gave to his pupils, the second being either by Beethoven himself or Albrechtsberger. In the case of Hess 246 neither theme is from this list. More importantly, as Jan Templiner has pointed out, there are striking similarities between the two themes of Hess 246, and the 'Kyrie Eleison'-double fugue from Mozart's Requiem. If anything, then Beethoven has modeled the present sketch on Mozart's illustrious example.
The sketch for this double fugue is 76 bars long and is written on two sides of a single sheet of paper. Possibly the sketch was originally longer.
The exposition is 24 bars long, and has a beautiful X shape in which the two themes cross each other:
sop: AAAAA BBBB alt: AAAAA BBBB ten: BBBBAAAAA bas: BBBB AAAAA
(AAAAA denoting the first theme, BBBB the second).
From this point onwards, only one voice has been written down. First there follows a 3 bar short divertimento, with material that is not related to the themes. In bar 33 the first theme appears in the bass, but breaks off after 4 bars when the sopranos take it over: Beethoven clearly intended a stretto over the first theme here. In bar 42 a slightly extended version of the theme appears in tenors. In bar 70 the theme in the sopranos has a different continuation, modulating to the subdominant, B flat.
On the completion:
Only a minimum of free counterpoint has been added to the exposition, in order not to blur its X-shape. For the rest of the sketch a second voice could always easily be derived from the second theme. The suggested stretto over the first theme in bar 33 has been worked out. Bar 48 gave the opportunity for what Nottebohm coined 'the artful doubling of the voices', that's to say, both themes being simultaneously doubled in parallel decimes (this trick occurs in many of Beethoven's double-fugues of this time, and may have been an Albrechtsberger speciality). In bars 54 and 60 some more simple strettos over the first theme have been included.
van Eyck : Ghent Altarpiece
Given the incomplete state of the sketch, it was impossible to round off the fugue without adding new ideas. This may be regrettable for those who are concerned about the authenticity, but it couldn't be helped. Luckily, it turned out to be possible to write a double stretto over both themes, with the following layout:
sop: B B B B B B A A A A A A A B B B B alt: A A A A A A A B B B B B A A A A A ten: A A A A A A A B B B B B B B B B B B B bas: B B B B B A A A A A A A,A A A A A A A
and which starts at the 2 min. 5 sec. mark of the midi. It should be pointed out that double strettos are missing in the other fugues written for Albrechtsberger, although they would have been the logical culmination of the education.
Some more 'artful doubling of the voices' to re-establish the home key of F major concludes the fugue.
Completion of the Hess 246 sketch by Willem. World premiere for the Unheard Beethoven site.
With sincere thanks to the Beethoven-Haus in Bonn, which provided us with a copy of the manuscript in Beethoven's original handwriting.